Beyerdynamic DT1350 Review

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Beyerdynamic DT1350
Brief: high-end pro-oriented portable headphone from Beyerdynamic

MSRP: $379 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $200 from amazon.com

Build Quality (10/10): My first thoughts upon opening the typically plain Beyerdynamic packaging were, “At last, an HD25 competitor”. Indeed, in typical Beyerdynamic fashion, the DT1350 is built like a tank. Whereas the HD25 emphasizes easy disassembly, replaceable parts, and lightweight construction, the DT1350 goes straight for the Panzer approach with its ample use of industrial-looking metal and minimal moving parts. In terms of cosmetics, the matte metal of the DT1350 is a little less discreet than the rough black plastic of the HD25 but the headphones are still very restrained and professional-looking. Like the HD25, the DT1350 features a split headband and additional configurations for single-ear monitoring are allowed by the swiveling earcups. Perhaps the only area where the HD25 has a clear advantage is with the detachable, user-replaceable cable. However, the DT1350 makes the best of its single-sided cord by using a reinforced sheath similar to the one found on the old Philips HP1000, as well as the meatiest I-plug I’ve ever seen. The lightweight cable is a healthy 5 feet in length – not quite long enough to sacrifice portability but not so short as to make using an extension a must for studio use. On the point of portability, the DT1350 comes with semi-hard carrying case that’s sturdier, but also slightly more time-consuming to use, than the simple zippered canvas pouch included with the limited edition HD25. No spare earpads are included but you do get both a 6.3mm and airline stereo adapters.

Comfort (7.5/10): For a headphone with more metal than plastic in the construction, the DT1350 is quite light and compact. Naturally, the plastic HD25 is lighter still and has a slight comfort advantage with the velour earpads, but the difference is small. Clamping force is a bit higher with the Beyerdynamics but whereas the HD25 relies on the earpads to distribute most of the clamp, the DT1350 hangs some of its weight on the headband as well. The cups have a very good range of motion and the padding, though firm for good isolation, remains comfortable even for lengthy listening sessions.

Isolation (10/10): Slightly better than what my HD25 manages with vinyl pads. Without a doubt the new standard for portable headphones.

Sound (9.25/10): The sound of the DT1350 is emphasizes balance and control, with excellent presence across the frequency spectrum and few peaks and drops. The low end is deep and impactful but remains tight and controlled at all times. The bass is not thin but it is quick and slightly dry, perhaps even a bit low on note decay time. In comparison, the note presentation of the Sennheiser HD25 is softer but the Sennheisers have more of a mid-bass hump for added punch and power. The bass of the DT1350 is not lacking, however, and sub-bass is a touch stronger than with the Sennheisers. Interestingly, with amplification, the sub-bass gets stronger still – high-efficiency Tesla drivers or not, performance at the very limits still seems limited with portable devices.

The midrange of the DT1350 is clean and very detailed. Control is the operative word as the powerful bass never overshadows the midrange. The lower mids are a tiny bit forward but drop down towards the top. Taken as a whole, however, the sound is reasonably flat through the midrange and treble – flatter than the HD25, for example. There is a slight bit of warmth to the DT1350 but not nearly as much as with a B&W P5 or Phiaton MS400. The smoothness, too, is impressive – both the midrange and treble have good texture and microdetail, never sounding smoothed-over, but manage to avoid grain, harshness, and sibilance. On the whole, the top end sounds more natural with the Beyers than it does with the HD25. It is more extended, a touch more detailed, and very non-fatiguing next to the sparkly and energetic HD25. Tonally, the DT1350 is darker than the HD25 and the few full-size Beyerdynamic sets I’ve heard – namely the DT770/250 and DT880/600, but not by a huge stretch.

Truth be told, the signature battle between the DT1350 and HD25-1 can swing either way based on preference, though I do think that the DT1350 has a small edge when it comes to actually being true to source. The presentation of the Beyerdynamics doesn’t make splitting them with the Sennheisers any easier. The soundstage of the HD25 can be disappointing next to many full-size headphones and really shouldn’t be difficult to beat but unfortunately the DT1350 doesn’t offer a sizeable upgrade from the somewhat meager sonic space of the Senns. The presentation of the DT1350 lacks some of the air of the HD25 and tends to be a bit more forward on average. Similarly, the aggressive, slightly v-shaped sound of the HD25 doesn’t do the presentation of the Sennheisers any favors. The DT1350 tends to image better but, surprisingly, the HD25 layers more convincingly. While the DT1350 has no trouble separating instruments, the HD25 makes it easier to distinguish between a track’s background and foreground. The HD25 can also be said to have better dynamics, though with amplification there seems to be a change in favor of the DT1350. On the whole neither really has the upper hand in overall presentation competency and it seems that even a thoroughly modern, high-end supraaural portable just can’t do soundstaging the way a full-size headphone can.

Value (8/10): It’s not every year that I see something as solid as the HD25 knocked off its pedestal but the Beyerdynamic DT1350 is a high-end portable headphone done right. Superb build quality and unprecedented isolation meet sound quality that can rival the best portable headphones I’ve heard and many full-size sets. The construction is nothing short of bulletproof and – soundstage size aside – the DT1350 is technically the best truly portable headphone I’ve come across, boasting superb detail and clarity, excellent bass control, and a level signature. That said, the Sennheiser HD25-1 still offers the more involving and exciting sound experience, occasionally making the DT1350 seem a little dull in comparison, and many will undoubtedly prefer it despite its slightly lower accuracy. In the end, neither headphone is perfect and recommending the shiny and new DT1350 over the aging, industrial-looking HD25 is made more difficult still by the hefty difference in price. As always signature preferences will likely play a larger role than the actual performance gap when deciding between the two top-tier portables but both are well worth the money for the discerning listener.

Manufacturer Specs:
Frequency Response: 5-30,000 Hz
Impedance: 80 Ω
Sensitivity: 109 dB SPL/1mW
Cord: 4.92ft (1.5m), single-sided, coiled (up to 6’); Straight Plug
Space-Saving Mechanism: Flat-folding


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

17 Comments

  1. Sebastian on

    Hey Joker,

    I have a pair of ATH-M50X for in-house usage and a pair of Beyerdynamic Custom Street for street/commute usage, I want a new pair of headphones to have the chance to switch from the Customs, Would the DT1350 be a good choice if I’d use them with a Fiio X3 and I’m into Rock/Metal music?

    Thank you very much.

    • ljokerl on

      I’ve only tried the Beyer Custom One, not the Custom Street, so I’m not sure how that compares to the DT1350, but personally I’d rather have a slightly more v-shaped and brighter sound for Rock/metal than the darker, smoother sound of the DT1350. The ATH-M50X, for example, would be preferable to me. But again, not sure how the Custom Street compares to that.

  2. Michael on

    I have ATH-ESW9A, but as for now prices on DT1350 did drop significantly. And I guess these do isolate better. How would you compare the sound in general?

    • ljokerl on

      Beyers are overall smoother and darker, with more midrange emphasis relative to the treble. Bass is a little deeper but the overall sound is not as airy, crisp, and energetic. ESW9A has more treble emphasis relative to the midrange and sounds more lively and punchy. It’s much more along the lines of the Audio-Technica “house sound”.

  3. rusty grant on

    Hey Joker, I tried these headphones as monitors for playing drums. They sound ground but don’t provide enough isolation for me (getting older and already have tinnitus). I had been using some decent earphones, which isolate about as well (if not better than these) and placing my 3M peltor ear muffs over the earphones. This combo decimates all of the world but the mix, which is great BUT bass response of my earphones is simply insufficient — bass guitar sounds buzzy/weak and the kick is not very present in mix. Can you recommend top of the line earphones that will give me the best bass response money can buy (well, for less than $500, let’s be reasonable)? Or headphones (portable or not) that isolate better than these but provide similar sound quality? Please help, I’m desperate for that sonic bliss but I want to be able to hear for at least another few years.

    • ljokerl on

      In-ears are going to be your best bet for something like this. If you get a sufficiently small/ergonomic in-ear monitor (or a custom fit IEM) you should be able to still fit your ear muffs over it for added isolation. Can’t do that with any headphones.

      For maximum isolation you really want silicone-shelled custom in-ears, but if you’re limiting your search to something with enhanced bass there aren’t that many options (custom in-ears tend to be tuned for more flat/reference sound). The only one I’ve tried that fits the bill is the Spiral Ears SE 3-way (http://www.spiralear.com/en/products/se3-reference/index.html), but that’s going to run you at least $700.

      Next best thing is an acrylic-shelled custom or a universal-fit in-ear with high isolation. Again I haven’t come across all that many acrylic customs with heavily enhanced bass. The most viable candidate is the Gorilla Ears GX-4b (http://shop.gorillaears.com/products/gx-4b?variant=415280785) but again that’s well over $500.

      If you decide to explore the custom IEM route a little more you can ask the question here: http://theheadphonelist.com/custom-in-ear-monitors-reviews-list/ for average_joe to answer. He has a number of custom monitors that I haven’t tried.

      As for universal-fit monitors, your options will be pretty limited by needing high isolation and enhanced bass – most enhanced-bass earphones have an open design to let the driver “breathe” and move more air. A few that come to mind are the EarSonics Velvet: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/earsonics-velvet-in-ear-earphone-review/ (very good sound but again very expensive), Yamaha EPH-100: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/yamaha-eph-100/ (quite inexpensive, and small enough to fit under earmuffs, but not quite as “Hi-Fi” as the options above), and the NHT SuperBuds: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/nht-superbuds/ . The SuperBuds aren’t actually very good earphones, but they’re very good bass cannons and can often be had at a steep discount. I don’t know about best, but it’s certainly the most bass for your money.

  4. Cugel on

    Hey Joker,

    I note that this review was from Dec 2012, and that you’re focusing on IEMs of late. Is this still the top rated set of cans?

    I’m coming from a set of RHA 750 iems- which I picked up thanks to you and love them – and want to get a set of comfortable cans for home listening with a similar sound signature, but perhaps some more liveliness in the treble department. Any suggestions on my upgrade path from RHA 750 (with smartphone as source) would be much appreciated!

    Love your site.

    • ljokerl on

      I haven’t tried any of the latest crop of on-ears so I couldn’t tell you how this compares to some of the 2015-2016 flagships out there. My gut feeling is that there’s probably better options than these for what you want – lively treble is not their strong suit. A portable headphone with a slightly more “v-shaped” sound signature should be a better match – I just don’t know what the best one is out there right now for that type of sound. If you had asked me this three years ago I would’ve recommended the Audio-Technica ATH-ES10 but I would assume those are no longer a very strong value since prices on them haven’t really dropped but the market has expanded and become more competitive.

      • Cugel on

        OK, thanks for your help and opinions! Much appreciated.

  5. D S on

    There is nothing in your original DT1350 review that suggests an emphasis in the bass. Has your opinion in that regard since changed?

    • ljokerl on

      I actually don’t have the DT1350 in my possession any more.

      • d s on

        I appreciate the prompt reply.

        Your DT1350 review in 2013 mentions nothing about an emphasis in the bass, yet your reply to Spico in January 2015 does.

        My question is, do you feel the DT1350 in fact has an emphasis in the bass? I ask because I’m a concert audio engineer who needs portable headphones that are true to the source, provide excellent isolation and do not require an amp. Needless to say, the DT1350 is on my short-list.

        • ljokerl on

          As mentioned in my reply to Spico, it takes an enhanced-bass in-ear monitor to match the level of impact that a relatively balanced on- or over-ear headphone provides. The DT1350 is a relatively balanced headphone, but it does have a slight warm/dark tilt on the whole. My experience with modern headphones isn’t that wide but there are many in-ears that I consider more neutral/true to source than a DT1350.

          • d s on

            Interesting. I find IEMs, as a class, sonically flawed, even when compared to portable and full-sized phones half their price.

            • d s on

              When truth-to-source is the standard used to compare.

  6. Spico on

    i know this is an out of place question but how do these compare to the dunu 1000. since the dunu is an earbud this might be a hard question to answer. i wouldn’t mind a hd25 comparison involved. thank you im just trying to find my best bet around $200

    • ljokerl on

      Yeah, that’s a very hard question to answer. I personally don’t like comparing headphones to IEMs because there’s such a difference in the way you perceive sound from each before you even start getting into the tuning differences between them. In the most general sense, the Dunu has a more v-shaped response with emphasis on the bass (not too different from the DT1350) and treble (which the DT1350 doesn’t have). In that sense the DN-1000 sounds more like an HD25.

      But, you should really pick a form factor before trying to find the best option based on sound. My preferred form factor is in-ear, and these days I don’t even know if I’m in the minority anymore.

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